PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu must be ashamed to call himself Zambia’s leader when he is allowing his corruption-accused Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya to be attending court sessions in government vehicles, says UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka.
And Katuka says President Lungu cannot act appropriately on Dr Chilufya because he also has crimes on his own shoulders.
In an interview, Katuka insisted that the right thing to do was for Dr Chilufya to step aside.
“Our appeal is for government to ask Chilufya to step aside. Even Chilufya, as a person, if he has some integrity, he is an educated person, a doctor for that matter. But the PF is so addicted to illegalities and cadrism such that even educated people in the PF behave like cadres! The moment you join the PF, you become a cadre. It’s a bunch of crooks who are there to swindle government resources. So, please, bwana Edgar Lungu, let Chilufya step aside while the investigations go on, while he is still appearing. A date for appearing in court was given, let him come to court from his home and not from a government office going to court with a government flag on a ministerial vehicle. He (Lungu) doesn’t even feel embarrassed with his own Minister to appear in court with a flag and calling himself a leader?” Katuka wondered.
“There is a provision in the law that when you are being investigated, you step aside to allow investigations to be done independently. How do you come to investigate somebody, who is still sitting in that office? Those charges are originating from his position as a Minister. By virtue of the job, that’s where he committed the crime, which he is being accused of. And you allow him to sit in that office, don’t you think he will destroy evidence? Nobody is saying that he must be fired. But what everyone is saying is that, he must step aside to allow for an independent investigation.”
And Katuka charged that President Lungu had failed to ask Dr Chilufya to step aside because the former equally had “sufficient crimes on his shoulders.”
“When they investigate and he is cleared by the courts of law, he goes back to his position. That is what happens in any civilized society. But PF is full of illegalities. The one who is supposed to ask the other one to step aside is an accomplice in one way or another. That is why he can’t do that. Bakolwe baleseka nefipato! (a monkey has those areas without hair on its buttocks and each one is laughing at the other to say, ‘that one has no hair behind when he also doesn’t have!) They have the same situation and it’s difficult for them to condemn the other one. He has sufficient crimes on his shoulders, too,” he said.
“PF has schemes that pop up like balloons every day. Today, it is this crime, another day, it is copper, the other day it is gold, and another day, this scandal. He has refused to fire anybody and even to suspend anyone for corruption, which under normal circumstances, any civilized government should have asked that minister to step aside and allow smooth investigations until cleared by the courts of law. We have seen that happened in the previous governments, which have been responsible. But PF is a very irresponsible government.”
Katuka added that under normal circumstances, Dr Chitalu should not be paid a full salary while investigations are ongoing.
“PF is not worried about the expenditure of government. They will allow somebody to continue drawing a full salary whilst being investigated. Under the rules, if you are on suspension, pending investigations, you get half salary until you are cleared. That is saving on behalf of government. But for them, they want him to continue enjoying all the benefits. He is getting the full salary and by the time they realize that this man committed a crime and is convicted, he would have earned so much money that he was not entitled to,” Katuka lamented.
But Katuka said that once UPND formed government, their administration would not allow its ministers to continue serving when they were facing corruption charges.
“This is the difference between us and the PF, and I can assure the Zambian people that when our time comes, if you have a matter before courts, as a Minister, you will have to step aside, whether you like it or not. If you are decent yourself, you will just ask for permission to step aside, but if you are indecent, like PF Ministers, the President will tell you to step aside,” said Katuka.
Last week, President Lungu’s Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe stated that the Head of State would not fire the embattled Health Minister just because he had been accused of corruption as Dr Chilufya was still innocent until proven otherwise.